Thursday night is the band’s night

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Photo courtesy of Rebecca Friesen

Rebecca Friesen, KSD director of bands, plays with her son.

By Ava Duggin, Kirkwood High School

It’s 6 p.m. on a Thursday night in “the Wood.” Rebecca Friesen, KSD director of bands, would usually be in downtown Kirkwood enjoying the annual summer concert series. But tonight she stands on her front porch playing her clarinet, with her son playing his trumpet on her left.

With concerts and band classes canceled due to COVID-19, Friesen was looking for a way to make online learning fun. She also missed Thursday Night concerts usually in downtown Kirkwood’s Station Plaza. So, she decided to combine the two.

“I thought ‘What if the band did Thursday night concerts?’” Friesen said. “There’re so many of us between 5th and 12th grade that likely you would hear it in Kirkwood somewhere.”

Friesen said she shared the information with all the music teachers in the district and on the Kirkwood band social media platforms. Each week participants can upload videos of themselves playing to a folder Friesen shared with them. Hana Noueiry, sophomore, regularly participates and uploads videos.

“[The front porch concerts] are super fun and a great way to still be a part of the community and spread awareness,” Noueiry said. “[They] just cheer up the whole neighborhood.”

Photo courtesy of Hana Pierce
Hannah Pierce plays her instrument on her front porch.

Friesen said many of the participants play with other family members, and there’s been full families that play together. Noueiry said her older brother sometimes joins her. James Luke, junior, plays with his dad, a guitar player, every week.

“I think [my dad] really enjoys it,” Luke said. “Every time afterward he says that we are doing a really good job and [talks about] how fun it was.”

Luke said that although his mom forced him and his dad to do the concerts at first, they have become a fun bonding moment for the two. Friesen also said her family enjoys it.

“I hope [the porch concert] is something to look forward to every week,” Friesen said. “[It’s] something to have on your calendar other than being in zoom classes and meetings.”

Each week information gets sent out about what song will be played. The first week Friesen chose “Ode to Joy” and the second week “Hail Kirkwood.” The third week students were able to pick. The 4th week they joined a project put on by Younison, a student centered group, called “Worldwide Day of Gratitude.” They played “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers.

Photo courtesy of James Luke
James Luke, junior, plays with his Dad.

“I think the kids that are doing it feel good about it,” Friesen said. “Hopefully they have some neighbors around that give them an applause. We’ve seen that on our street, the neighbors come out and it’s always fun to see a smile on their face.”

Luke, Noueiry, and Hannah Pierce, freshmen and participants, also said their neighbors usually come outside. Noueiry said some people walking by on the sidewalk stop to listen. Pierce is happy she gets to have an audience even though concerts are canceled.

“During quarantine you’re just in your house practicing on your own,” Pierce said. “But with this, you get a chance to have a group of people listen to you.”

Pierce, Friesen, Luke, and Noueiry all said they mostly get applause after they play. Luke noticed the impact the front porch concerts seem to have on his audience.

Photo courtesy of Hana Noueiry
Hana Noueiry, sophomore, plays with her older brother.

“When we were playing for our next-door neighbors they definitely seemed to enjoy it,” Luke said. “I could tell that it made them happier.”

Friesen believes the concerts are positively affecting the community. She plans to continue the concerts through the end of the school year.

“I hope everyone joins [the porch concerts],” Friesen said. “It doesn’t matter how perfected you are. It’s just about having a moment of light-heartedness and fun.”

This story was originally published on The Kirkwood Call on May 14, 2020.